Updated: Dec 14, 2020
I recently was shown a photo of this sculpture, “Expansion, Half Life” by sculptor Page Bradley. I am so taken by the beauty of it and also the metaphor. About the work, the sculptor says.
"From the moment we are born, the world tends to have a container already built for us to fit inside: A social security number, a gender, a race, a profession or an I.Q. I ponder if we are more defined by the container we are in, rather than what we are inside. Would we recognize ourselves if we could expand beyond our bodies? Would we still be able to exist if we were authentically 'un-contained'?
The sculpture immediately made me think of Leonard Cohen’s famous lyric about the cracks being how the light gets into us. But, this sculpture seems to be about the opposite idea -- that our cracks are how our inner light gets out into the world. Do you have an inner light? How do you let it get out into the world? How are you defined by the container of your body, your gender, your psychology?
Apparently, the sculptor felt she had pushed the limits of sculpting the human figure and decided she wanted to break the rules wide open. She carefully made a wax sculpture and when it hardened, she dropped it forcefully onto concrete – whereupon it broke into several pieces. She didn’t have a plan about what to do next. Eventually, she had each piece cast into bronze and reassembled the pieces leaving all the crack lines and then had electric lights installed inside the piece. ~~. from an article, "The riveting story behind the striking sculpture" by Alice Yoo in MyModernMet.com
It has a tremendous beauty – and also is a beautiful metaphor. It is something like the Japanese Kingtsu where they repair cracked teacups by putting gold into the cracks to highlight them. But here, the artist leaves the cracks and allows light to emanate from them. When I feel broken into pieces, I want to remember this sculpture and the marvelous creativity Page Bradley shows us. Not to repair our cracks – but to let our inner light shine out through them.
Here is an excerpt from a poem along the same lines by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer;
The Way It Is – Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer
Over and over we break
open, we break and
we break and we open.
For a while, we try to fix
the vessel, as if
to be broken is bad.
As if with glue and tape
and a steady hand we
might bring things to perfect
again. As if they were ever
perfect. As if to be broken is not
also perfect. As if to be open
is not the path toward joy.